Book Review: London The Cookbook

London The Cookbook cover

[Before proceeding with the review, I would just like to add a personal note. To the people of London, in particular the residents of Grenfell tower who lost their homes in the terrible fire, the firefighters who are nothing other than Superheros, the victims and their friends and families, and the community rounding up to help. Also to all the traders in Borough Market and the victims of the London Bridge attack. We are with you.]

I could not contain my excitement when after writing to Quarto requesting this book for review, I actually received it in the post. You see, for any new reader of this blog, you must know that London and I go way back. I met her for the first time when I was 6. And yes, London is of course, a she. I didn’t like her very much at first, until my parents took me to the parks. She and I made friends there and then, and remain so to this day.

Bentley_s Oyster Bar_s Oyster croque monsieur
Bentley’s Oyster Croque Monsieur (photo credit: David Munns)

When my dad was 18 he spent some years working there and I feel that somehow he has left a piece of him in this city he loves so much. He took us there for my first holiday when I was still little and we visited frequently. I grew up, got married, lived in the US, moved back to Malta, went back to the UK and stayed there for a while. I commuted everyday to Kensington and never took that time for granted. Every morning I developed a kind of ritual. I would look around Kensington Square before stepping into Heythrop for my MA classes and thanked the universe everyday for guiding me there.

The Ivy_s Shepherd_s pie - picture credit to David Munns
The Ivy’s Shepherd’s Pie (photo credit: David Munns)

“London is renowned the world over for the quality, diversity and ingenuity of its food. It has taken time and no small effort from an army of dedicated restaurateurs, food purveyors and producers to achieve this coveted reputation but the city is now a top culinary destination with a food scene that matches its magnetic pull of history and culture.”

The Wolseley_s Eggs Benedict - credit to David Munns
The Wolseley’s Eggs Benedict (photo credit: David Munns)

London: The Cookbook is the book I wish I had a few years back, and so I’m glad that the guys at Quarto came up with this concept and published it. I would have bought it for myself without hesitation, no questions there. It also makes a great gift for that foodie/gourmand friend who appreciates everything London. Also, perfect for the newbie who’s all about eating good food by exploring the most iconic food destinations. An added bonus in the book are some of the recipes that make these places so special.

Caravan_s Kimchi pancake, pork belly
Caravan’s Kimchi Pancake, pork belly, duck eggs and gochuchang ketchup (photo credit: David Munns)

Written by Cara Frost-Sharratt, the book’s foreword was penned by the Fergus Henderson, who over two decades ago “transformed London’s restaurant landscape” with fellow restaurateur and friend Trevor Gulliver, establishing the joint venture known as St. John. For this, they deserved a whole chapter in the book. Some said they were mavericks, others couldn’t agree less and dismissed them as old-fashioned. Fergus and Trevor soldiered on and now they nurture and train chefs with the St. John philosophy, concentrating on British ingredients “from the onset, the focus was on rustic fare that harked back to a more prudent approach to butchery and food preparation”.

Barrafina_s Stuffed courgette flowers - credit to David Munns
Barrafina’s Stuffed Courgette Flowers (photo credit: David Munns)

What we have here is a travel guide and recipe collection mashed into one comprehensive publication. It will take you to the Markets from Borough Market to Brixton, Brick Lane and has a list of the London’s Farmer’s Markets. You get what are called the London Classics and the New Classics – a thorough overview of the big names and newer up and coming eateries, a mixture of sit down restaurants where you need reservations and no-frills little places with a big heart, where it’s just find a place and eat. London doesn’t disappoint.

Lyle_s Fish head
Lyle’s Fish Head (photo credit: Jemma Watts)

The menus are diverse and giving one the opportunity to be as adventurous with food as one likes, ranging from expensive to the affordable. There are also 50 featured recipes, including a few signature ones from The Ivy, The Wolseley, Bentley’s and Sweetings, and new classics including Portland, Koya, Caravan, Lyles and Barafina.

About the author:

*Cara Frost-Sharratt has a background in food publishing, having worked as an editor on both magazines and books. Now an established writer, she is the author of 12 books, including a number of food and lifestyle titles. These include The Food Lover’s Guide to Europe, London’s Classic Restaurants, and A Foodie’s Guide to London. She has lived and worked in London for 20 years and enjoys exploring the city’s huge variety of food shops, markets and restaurants.

Format: Hardback, 224 Pages
ISBN: 9780711238275
Size: 9.449 in x 7.48 in / 240 mm x 190 mm
Published: May. 4, 2017
RRP: £20.00

London The Cookbook by Cara Frost-Sharratt is out now via Frances Lincoln, an imprint of The Quarto Group.

London: The Cookbook was kindly sent by the publisher for review.

*The author biography was extracted from here.

All the images used here are used with permission from the publisher.

This is not a sponsored post.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: London The Cookbook”

  1. Nice book review, Roberta, as always. But today I personally thank you for your kind words at the beginning of your page. I lived for many many years in South Kensington, just opposite the V & A, and in the last few years we stayed in a flat just off Portobello Road every time we visited Europe. So this (and other) tragedy of course leaves its mark on us too – although we are thousands of miles away. To be frank, I don’t understand whats happening in “my” Europe any longer.

    1. Thanks Carina. I appreciate that and completely understand your sentiment about Europe. Frankly I don’t know what’s happening throughout the whole world. I just wanted to acknowledge what happened because sometimes I hate that parochial-ism (if that’s even a word) where people are too engrossed in their own small bubble to even care about everything that’s happening. I hear people say ‘I don’t follow the news because I just want to work, feed my kids and have a home.’ For crying out loud!

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